Sunday, December 21, 2008

Holy Innocents by Christina Rossetti

Holy Innocents

THEY scarcely waked before they slept,
They scarcely wept before they laughed;
They drank indeed death's bitter draught,
But all its bitterest dregs were kept
And drained by Mothers while they wept.

From Heaven the speechless Infants speak:
Weep not (they say), our Mothers dear,
For swords nor sorrows come not here.
Now we are strong who were so weak,
And all is ours we could not seek.

We bloom among the blooming flowers,
We sing among the singing birds;
Wisdom we have who wanted words:
here morning knows not evening hours,
All's rainbow here without the showers.

And softer than our Mother's breast,
And closer than our Mother's arm,
Is here the Love that keeps us warm
And broods above our happy next.
Dear Mothers, come: for Heaven is best.
--Christina Rossetti

I was thinking of posting the Coventry Carol today, but while looking for the words online, I stumbled on a site full of Christmas Poems by Christina Rossetti (She also wrote "In the Bleak Midwinter" for those of you who don't quite recognize the name). Having a baby of your own changes the way you think about things, and for the first time this year, I realized that the Coventry Carol is not about protecting Jesus, but singing one last Bye Bye Lullay to all the other children that "Harod the King in his raging" ordered his soldiers to kill. I can't imagine how horrible that would have been, and I'm glad that I live in a world where nothing like that will happen to my sweet Elizabeth. Of course there are always tragedies -- this poem also reminds me of the one I posted after the Chinese earthquake earlier this year.

Now that you've been duly depressed for Christmas, let's lighten things up by posting our Christmas letter and family photo. I'm pretty impressed with myself for not only figuring out how to use the timer so that I could take the family picture, but also for getting a good shot of a Christmas ornament with pretty starbursts on the lights, and also for figuring out how to make GimpShop work well enough to merge the two images and put words on it with shadows and everything.

Merry Christmas Everyone!!
Let’s see what happened in our family this year...

In January, (Peter says: We expanded via an acquisition!) in other words, Elizabeth Anne Ahlstrom was born! She arrived on January 14th and weighed 8 lbs 10 oz. She had pretty red hair prompting her Grandma Becky, who was there for the blessed event to say, “A little Girl? And a redhead? You hit the Jackpot!” (And Karen is a Compulsive Capitalizer.) And I must say that we certainly agree with her. Elizabeth is about the sweetest baby you could wish for, and beautiful and clever to boot. (Peter asks: Does she have boots? Karen answers: She does, but they’re too big for her.)

In February, Peter gave Elizabeth a name and blessing (Peter notes that there were no surprises in the name or blessing). Grandpa Jim, Grandma Kathey, and Aunt Kirsten came to visit that weekend, as did Grandpa Randy and Uncle Mike with his three boys. (Peter says: Which was very nice.)

In March, we all got influenza. (Peter says: Which was not very nice.) We had to take Elizabeth to the Emergency room and let them do all sorts of horrible tests on her (Peter says: And they couldn’t find her blood) which would have been bad enough if we were well, but since I could barely stand and already felt like death warmed over, the whole experience was pretty traumatic.
Also in March, we welcomed another member to the family when we went to Steve and Rachel’s wedding. It was a lot of fun to get together with the whole family and talk and eat and take lots of photos. (Peter says: And it snowed and we got to see Barb and Kyle.)

In April, Elizabeth got a lot more “interactive” as Peter puts it. Looking back through old blog posts, I was reminded of the time when Elizabeth tried to grab the remote control, but only succeeded in knocking it down. Peter thought this was funny and said, “Baby, you have 0 DEX!” I thought that was funny, and said, “But her CHR is pretty high!” Yes, we are nerds. (Peter thinks that baby’s DEX might be up to 5 by now).

In May, Elizabeth became much more aware of her surroundings, which meant that I could no longer make her nurse and sleep wherever we happened to be at the time. I had my first Mother’s day, and sadly missed the Primary children singing because I was trying to get Elizabeth to nurse in the Mother’s lounge. I also had my birthday that month, and threw myself a little party.

By June, Elizabeth was sitting unsupported, and Peter had his first Father’s day (Peter says: I don’t remember anything about that day). June was a hard month with two funerals and two family reunions, only one of which was planned. On top of all that business, Peter’s company laid off 40% of their staff including him (Peter says: I need a new job).

In July, Elizabeth started pulling herself up on things, and trying to learn to crawl. We started talking evening walks as a family (Peter says: Walks are nice and I recommend them to everybody). On these walks, Elizabeth keeps her eyes peeled for one of the many stray cats that live in our neighborhood. She gets terribly excited when she sees one, while they either pretend to be indifferent or run away as fast as they can. (Peter says: I have discovered that it’s best to approach them from an oblique angle so that you’re not headed straight for them with the stroller, but sort of ease your way close enough to them for Elizabeth to reach out and grab at.) (Peter also says: At the end of July I started working at a temporary job and I’m still working there.)

In August, we watched the Olympics and were suitably impressed when Elizabeth took up the sport of crawling. She also managed to cut two teeth with a lot of angst. (Peter says: I went to Worldcon and saw my friends from Utah and was on some big panels.)

In September, Elizabeth and I took a trip to Ohio and Elizabeth met Great Grandma Fawnie for the first time. She had tons of new experiences, and enjoyed herself thoroughly, except when she was sad because it’s hard to eat and sleep in new places when you’re as curious as she is. (Peter says: And I was lonely.)

In October, I made several costumes including cute Pumpkin hats for Elizabeth and some of her cousins and friends. I also made elf and fairy costumes so that our family could coordinate at the Ward Halloween party. (Peter says: And we carved pumpkins—even the one that didn’t want to be carved.) I finally got the landscaping of our house sort of finished, with a brick path, beds of gravel, flowers, and a vegetable garden.

In November, Elizabeth got really interested in books. She will sit and ask for Mama to read her one after another after another (Peter says: after another after another). She also took her first few unsupported steps (Peter says: Wasn’t that in December? No? Wow...time flies). I spent a lot of time and energy making tutus to sell at a craft fair. I kind of went overboard and though I’ve sold enough to make back most of my investment in supplies, I still have LOTS of pretty tutus that need to be sold. At the end of November, Elizabeth got a stomach virus and threw up for days. When I took her to the doctor to see if she was dehydrated, they said, “Your baby is fine, but you, my dear, are not.” They called one of my friends to take the baby, and forced me to lie down while they pumped four liters of fluid into me. (Peter says: That sounds like a lot!)

Now it’s December. We’ve got the Christmas tree up, and lights strung outside. Elizabeth is fascinated by all the decorations—especially the jingle bell wreath on the front door and the Fisher Price Nativity set. (Peter says: Elizabeth and I are sick again with colds.)

Well that’s the major news from this year. In the days when there aren’t big events, Karen keeps busy playing with Elizabeth, doing the housework, visiting Grandma Stay, and socializing with the other mothers from the Enrichment park group. Peter keeps busy by going to work, listening to audiobooks on his commute, posting enigmatic—almost spoilerific comments on the Timewaster’s Guide forums, freelance editing, and not paying attention to TV commercials. Elizabeth keeps busy by being cute, working hard at learning how her toys and everything else in world works, sharing germs with her friend at church and the park, and generally being the apple of her parents’ eyes.

Karen says: Well, should we say anything else? Peter says: We Love Everybody! Elizabeth says: Bwaa baa baa!

Love Karen, Peter, and Elizabeth Ahlstrom

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